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Are You Guilty? A Checklist for every Barn.

Barn Checklist: Training site section Logo, horses grazing in tall grass. By Bonnie J. Hilton (Horse Training article copyrighted by Saddle & Bridle Magazine.)

Recently a young instructor/trainer that I was working with had a frustrating morning at her facility because of circumstances brought about by one of her clients. I find fodder for writing in the every day, and these points to ponder, on whether you are guilty, probably need to be posted in clear view for some clients. Even some instructors/trainers should read them. They often upset people, develop hard feelings and are time consuming points that cause havoc to schedule and routine.

1 Loaning Equipment --  If you are told you can borrow something there is a time frame attached to it, unless it is stated otherwise. I have allowed my clients to borrow all sorts of training equipment, even my saddles, but because some borrowed equipment has grown legs and actually disappeared over the years, I have learned to keep tabs on what is where, by actually writing down what I have lent to who, when.

 If I want a client to use my equipment for the duration of that segment of the equine s training, I tell them so. If I tell a client they can use the equipment, but I would like them to get their own, then I expect them to get their own ASAP (as soon as possible) or be honest and tell me that they can t afford it. Maybe we can find used or I can get it for them and they can pay me in installments.

2. Returning Equipment --If you borrow a piece of equipment and don t tell the person you borrowed it from in person, at least leave a note that you did, so that they don t have to go nuts looking for it and think that it got legs and walked off! If you borrow a piece of equipment and bring it back, then please put it back where you found it, not in a general location somewhere in the barn, around the tack room or in the office, thinking the person is going to find it there. If you can t put it back where you found it, because that area is locked up, then leave it in plain view with a note on it! (The frustration that started this article was over a specific longe line that was missing. The instructor had told her clients that they could borrow her equipment, which obviously someone had done with the longe line. The searchset us back in schedule 15 minutes, trying to locate the thing, which had been left in a totally different location than the tack room where it should have been.)

3.Condition of Returned Equipment -- If you borrow a piece of equipment bring it back correctly adjusted as you were given it, if appropriate, and bring it back cleaned! I attempt to keep my equipment clean and when I let a client borrow something to put on their horse it has been checked over. I was pleasantly surprised by one of my training clients some years ago when they went to the time and expense of locating a special surcingle that I had made custom to fit the youngsters. They got me a new one, to replace the one that they had been using of mine for several months, which had been new when I gave it to them.  If I use a clients saddle with training, I try to remember to put the leathers back to their length.

Now this is going to seem trivial to some, especially if you don t bandage, but I watched as a young trainer was putting on polo s for the horse I was to help them with and as she finished the first wrap it was obvious the bandage had been rolled wrong, Velcro was on the inside/outside. She was frustrated that someone had borrowed them, probably one of her students who is practicing and didn t put them back correctly rolled. The wraps were soiled as well and should not have been put back in the bandage rack to be used. Here again, I suggested that she post a big sign on the bandage rack and have a mini clinic on bandaging and how to roll bandages.

4. Repair of Equipment  -- If something breaks, get it fixed and be honest about it to the person you borrowed it from. Stuff happens and equipment does wear out also. I have a training surcingle being used by a client at present which is on its way out. I don t remember when I purchased it and I know it is getting tired and I told my student when she borrowed it that it was missing stitches in some areas and I either had to have it repaired or replaced. She has offered to have it repaired. If she does so that will be nice, if she doesn t, I will not be upset because I knew the condition of the equipment when I gave it to her to use. I get upset when I get things back in poor condition or worse and no one lets me know.

5.Clean Equipment & Tools -- Take the time to teach people to respect the importance of clean grooming tools as well as clean equipment. I was just talking to an owner this morning and we were discussing grooming volunteers for a retirement facility in the state of Connecticut where I work. This owner is a few years younger than I, but we were commiserating about how as youngsters, if we could get to a barn, we would be there all day doing all kinds of off jobs just to be around the horses. I liked washing brushes and setting a grooming kit up clean and neat. I was fortunate to have the same going on at my own facility, the students would always be pitching in to do something, but I don t see as much of it as I would like now. I think the students have to be taught more about the importance, especially from a safety check aspect. It needs to be pounded into the brain. I didn t like having to clean my tack after every ride in England, but I got used to it and it became automatic, since someone was always checking it!

6.Don t Leave a Mess for Others -- I don t care how much you are paying for boarding your horse, you are not supposed to be an inconsiderate nincompoop! Look that up in Webster s! I walked into the main alley of one of the barns where I train and I was faced with having to clean up the mess left behind by someone. I clean up after myself which means at this facility I pick up the manure in the indoor that my training charge has deposited, I sweep the floor in the cross tie area to clean up after the hoof cleaning and grooming, I put things away as I found them in the wash stall and I leave an empty muck bucket for the next person. Hello!!!! I don t always have the time to do all this, I get late too, but it is expected and it reflects on my reputation.

I know better and I recently have been getting a little outspoken to see to it that others that I come into contact with start to know better. If you are paying for maid service, I stand corrected !

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